Marcus Clarke – bohemian, bon vivant, poet, journalist, novelist, bibliophile, flaneur and agent provocateur – remains one of the most important figures of early Australian literature, journalism and writing. Indeed, Clarke's life resembles a sort of literary shooting star that shone all too brightly over the skies of Melbourne's early literary scene; its brief yet radiant light tragically extinguished in spite of the majestic facility of its illumination.
This Commemorative Essay – written by Marcus D. Niski on The Occasion of the 170th Anniversary of The Melbourne Athenaeum To Celebrate and Acknowledge Marcus Clarke's Life and Contribution to The Development of The Melbourne Athenaeum, Victoria's Oldest Cultural Institution (Est. 1839) – focuses on a number of elements in Clarke's life and writing including his early life in Australia; his establishment in journalism and his contributions as an acute Melbourne social observer; his involvement in public affairs and, most particularly, his involvement with The Melbourne Athenaeum in the 1870's during which time he served as a Board member as well as participating in the work of various Sub-Committees. Finally, it charts the course of Clarke's untimely mortal demise at the tragically young age of thirty-five.